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Audi Wins Le Mans 24 Hour Race

June 18, 2006

LE MANS, France (AP) _ Audi won its sixth Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race Sunday, yet the biggest surprise was which Audi driver failed to cross the finish line first.

Frank Biela and Marco Werner of Germany and Emanuele Pirro of Italy drove the Audi No. 8 to victory _ a first for a diesel-powered car at Le Mans. It was a fourth Le Mans victory for Pirro and Biela, and a second for Werner.

Frenchmen Eric Hilary, Franck Montagny and Sebastien Loeb of Pescarolo Judd took second place, four laps back.

Record seven-time winner Tom Kristensen of Denmark, who had won the previous six races at Le Mans, finished 13 laps behind to take third in his Audi. His car started from the pole position and he was considered a big favorite in the race.

After losing the lead briefly in the 14th lap, Werner, Biela and Pirro held on to it throughout the rest of the race, going 380 laps and being helped by a technical staff that repaired a transmission in less than 10 minutes Sunday.

Kristensen and his teammates in the Audi No. 7 lost precious time in the pits twice. They never managed to catch up with the two top cars, though Kristensen clocked the best lap time of the race _ 3 minutes, 32.691 seconds on the 8.48-mile track on Saturday evening.

Both Audi R10s were diesel-powered cars.

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